Monday, March 7, 2011

Controversial? Is it really?

I'm pondering reviews. I've been thinking about them a lot lately. This has been sparked by quite a few blog posts I've read in the last month stating that authors/wannabe authors probably shouldn't review books as it's not seen in the best light to critique your fellow novelists. I have to ask myself why. (A regular Aristotle, I tell ya...)

Don't we, as writers, want to grow in our craft? Become better at it? Sometimes it's hard to step outside of our neatly created worlds and examine the flaws. We can't see the forest for the trees, as my mother often said. We know this! It's why we have critique partners and editors. It's why we go through so many rigorous revisions. Why then should we balk at a little constructive criticism once the book is in print? Can we not still learn from the perspective of others once the ink is permanent? I would venture that we certainly can. So why are people trying to push book reviews off as being taboo? (Yes, I know there are mean people out there who don't know the difference between constructive and critical. Hit the ignore button! They only have as much power as you give them.)

I am not much of a reviewer myself. I use goodreads to mostly report content, though after reading an incredibly thoughtful series like Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, I do spend a little time describing my personal feelings.

To me, the world is becoming upside down and backwards. Political correctness is killing discussion and the things that should be taboo (sex, gore, cursing, among other things) are becoming more and more accepted. This is the reason I will NOT stop reviewing books. They have no rating system of their own and it's only through word of mouth that we know what's in them. I consider it an obligation to my friends and family to warn them of inappropriate content in any book. It's not personal and I never mean to offend. I LOVE the authors and writers I've met even if they choose to write things I disagree with. I would guess 99.9% of the writers out there feel the same way. I want the world to be a better place and I know you do to. We can't do it when we accept filth as commonplace. As Edmund Burke famously said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing." I for one am choosing to do something, even if it costs me national publication.

Matthew 5:14-16 reads, " Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

I don't normally quote scriptures on my writing blog, but this seemed an appropriate moment do to so.

So is this controversial? It shouldn't be, but I haven't seen anyone else saying these things. Please, do me a favor and circulate this post, whether you agree or not, so that this side of the story can be heard and writers can decide for themselves how they want to proceed. This is an important issue to me and I would appreciate your help. Thank you!


  1. i've heard the same thing. and it's silly. we should give our opinion. if it weren't for reviews, i wouldn't know what books to allow my children to read and which ones to steer clear from!

    as far as the reviews are concerned, though, there's a way to do it without coming off as harsh. we should strive to be careful with our words. it's also important to remember there is a person behind those words who does have feelings. we should be mindful of that.

  2. I'm not much of a reviewer either on those public sites, though I do like to put the word out there about a good book which I think has been overlooked. It sounds very New Age-y but I prefer to put positive stuff out there, rather than negative.
    But this has been on my mind, as I sometimes have reservations about books which a lot of people like. (The Dark Divine, for instance, which seemed to me to be using Christianity mainly for window dressing, without any insight.) Is it worth it to post my opinions, particularly if there are 15,000 other reviews squealing about how good it is?

  3. I like reviewing books. It hadn't occurred to me that it might be a bad thing. Of course, I don't want to post bad reviews, so I only review books I actually liked, or at least liked something about. But then, you seem to be talking about coming out and saying that a book is inappropriate. I guess I wouldn't read it in the first place and therefore, wouldn't review it.

  4. Oh, I'm only talking about my blog here. I am absolutely dreadful at Goodreads. I just don't remember to post the books I've read, or maybe I just don't want to bother.

  5. Excellent point, Nisa. And the scripture reference is more than fitting. We have been called to stand for the cause of Christ, and than permeates into books and beyond!

  6. Amie, absolutely! Everything we say and do should be done with love. :)

    Laura, I'm all for spreading the positive! I definitely think your reviews would be helpful too. You see, I would have never thought of The Dark Divine as you stated it, but now I can look back on it with new perspective.

    Angie, but how do you know if a book is appropriate when you pick it up? I've picked up a handful of YA thinking it the more "safe" category only to be sorely disappointed. That's why I post reviews on content.

    Thanks, Tamika! I love that passage of scripture. :)

  7. I think something a lot of people aren't differentiating are negative--critical reviews and negative--trashing reviews. I don't believe there's a place for trashing, but there is definitely a need for critical, balanced reviews. To be honest, I don't like, read, or give any weight to reviews that are only there to gush. I've been burned by content too many times that way.

  8. I like reading honest reviews of books.

    However, I don't really like writing reviews. My brain is usually just too fried by the end of the day, what with work and then trying to write books myself, I just lack the time to write well thought out reviews.

    But I am glad someone out there writes them.


  9. Very good point, Dani. Perhaps sometimes it can be hard to tell (especially when the reviewer is a stranger) how the review is meant. And I definitely see your point on gushing reviews. Honest is the best kind of anything. :)

    Shelley, I'm glad as well! I feel as you do by the end of the day. This is why I typically don't spend a lot of time on writing them either.


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